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Best Bike Trails And Rides In Utah – Cycling Around The Beehive State

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Cycling in Utah can open your eyes to some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in the country. With as many as five national parks and six national forests (plus a couple that are mostly in Idaho), the Beehive State can be an outdoor enthusiast’s playground.

This diverse landscape, filled with canyons, hoodoos, rivers, alpine meadows, and deserts, can offer some of the best bike rides out there. To give you some tips on where to go, we’ve put together a few of our favorites.

Best Bike Trails And Rides In Utah - Pinterest Pin Small ImagePin

9 Best Utah Biking Trails And Rides

1. The All-American Road – Scenic Byway 12 (best road ride)

cyclists race on Scenic Byway 12 near Torrey, Utah - Flickr imagePin
Courtesy: Tony Webster on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Scenic Byway 12 is a designated All-American Road that stretches 123 miles from Panguitch to Torrey. It crosses through some of the most spectacular scenery Utah has to offer, including Bryce Canyon National Park and Capitol Reef National Park – two of the five national parks found in Utah.

This route is on-road and takes you through scenic canyons, alongside impressive hoodoos, and through natural sandstone arches. You can choose to ride the whole length of the road or you can choose smaller sections for a round-trip.

One shorter route can take you on a 54-mile round-trip from Escalante to Boulder, where you can take in the amazing views of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument from the summit at the Head of the Rocks observation point.

Surface Type: Sealed

Ride Difficulty: Hard – long trip with steep climbs and descents, and few places to stop for refreshments/services

2. Slickrock Trail (best mTB ride)

bicycle with backpack leaning against rocks in Slickrock trail, Moab - Flickr imagePin
Courtesy: Stanislav Sedov on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Slickrock Trail is a well-known mountain biking trail in Moab. The roughly 10-mile trail can often take around a few hours to complete because of the level of difficulty and the type of terrain – petrified sand dunes. However, there is a practice loop (just under two miles) to hone your skills before you attempt the main trail.

The ride features steep climbs and narrow ledges and points with sudden drop-offs. But the far-reaching views from the trail across the ancient desert are worth the effort.

The trail begins from the trailhead parking lot, just outside of Moab. You can cycle from Moab, which is just over a three-mile ride uphill from the town. Moab is a bike-friendly town with plenty of places to eat or grab a coffee, as well as hotels and campgrounds for overnight stays and several bike shops.

Surface Type: Off-road

Ride Difficulty: Hard – steep ascents and descents with narrow ledges and drops.

3. Antelope Island

three adult cyclists biking on the road of Antelope Island, Utah on sunny day - Flickr imagePin
Courtesy: Edgar Zuniga Jr. on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Antelope Island sits in Great Salt Lake and is known for its wildlife, natural areas, and great views. One of the most popular species to see on the island is the free-roaming bison – there are around 600 of them. You may also see pronghorn antelope, which is where the island gets its name.

The island, which is a state park, features several trails that can lead you off-road and up peaks for panoramic views of the surrounding Wasatch and Newfoundland mountains.

You can cycle across the causeway to Antelope Island from the parking lot near the causeway toll booth in Syracuse. This route from Syracuse and around Antelope Island is a 47-mile round trip.

This trip takes you past the visitor center and along the road to Fielding Garr Ranch, where you stop for a picnic and take in the views.

Surface Type: Sealed

Ride Difficulty: Medium – mostly flat with gradual elevations (increased elevations on off-road trails within the park).

4. Provo River Parkway

The Provo River Parkway is a paved trail that runs for 15 miles from Utah Lake State Park, where the Provo River meets Utah Lake, to Vivian Park, in Provo Canyon. This can be an easy ride for families and beginners, as it’s away from roads and traffic. It can also be extremely scenic with views of the river, canyon, and surrounding peaks.

The trail travels alongside the Provo River and through several parks, including Mount Timpanogos Park, where you’ll find restrooms and several mountain biking trails. There are also restrooms at the parks at both ends of the trail.

One of the highlights of the Provo River Parkway is Bridal Veil Falls, a scenic natural waterfall. This can be a good place to stop for a picnic. However, this spot can be busy at weekends and the trail can also often be busy with pedestrians.

You can also extend your ride along the South Fork and loop back on yourself, but this is an on-street route.

Surface Type: Paved

Ride Difficulty: Easy to medium – generally flat on a designated traffic-free path with a gradual incline.

5. Thunder Mountain Trail

The Thunder Mountain Trail can be one of the most scenic mountain biking trails in Utah. With spectacular hoodoos and expansive red rock formations just outside Bryce Canyon National Park, this is the same other-worldly landscape that inspired Walt Disney (think Disney’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad).

The Thunder Mountain Trail runs through Red Canyon in Dixie National Forest and can be linked with the Red Canyon Trail and the Grandview Trail for a 15-mile loop.

The Red Canyon area has around 24 miles of mountain biking trails. There is parking at the trailhead just off Scenic Byway 12, where you’ll find direct access to the Thunder Mountain Trail.

Surface Type: Off-road

Ride Difficulty: Hard – technical single-track riding with tight switchbacks, steep hills, and drops.

6. Ogden River Parkway

The Ogden River Parkway is a paved trail that stretches just over 17 miles from the Ogden Canyon Trailhead to the confluence of the Ogden River and the Weber River.

This is a generally flat ride that can be easy for beginners and cyclists with kids, as there are plenty of places to stop along the route, with various parks. The route runs alongside the Ogden River from end to end.

However, the trail can be linked up with the Weber River Parkway, the Beus Canyon Trail, and the Bonneville Shoreline Trail to form the Centennial Trail. This trail forms a loop around Ogden and passes through South Weber and Uintah.

It’s worth noting that the six-mile section on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail is off-road and better suited to mountain bikers. But the views of the Wasatch Mountains and through the canyon can be stunning.

Surface Type: Paved

Ride Difficulty: Easy to moderate – flat ride away from traffic.

7. Wasatch Crest Trail

The Wasatch Crest Trail stretches for 20 miles across the Wasatch Mountains near Park City, at an elevation of almost 10,000 feet. This rugged off-road trail can offer some incredible scenery and panoramic views along the entire route, with alpine meadows, forests, and even the picturesque turquoise waters of Desolation Lake.

The trail begins at the trailhead at the top of Guardsman Pass Road and eventually links with the Mill Creek Canyon Trail to take you back to Park City. The Mill Creek Canyon trails are only open to bikes on even-numbered calendar days.

On odd-numbered days you can head west along the Mill D North Fork Trail to Big Cottonwood Canyon Road, where you can swing down through Solitude Mountain Resort and back to the Wasatch Crest Trailhead.

The Wasatch Crest Trail features steep climbs and narrow single-tracks along sheer ridges, so it can be best suited to experienced and advanced cyclists on suitable mountain bikes.

Surface Type: Off-road

Ride Difficulty: Medium to hard – narrow single-track along a ridge with steep climbs and drops.

8. Porcupine Rim Trail

The Porcupine Rim Trail is one of Utah’s most popular and well-known mountain biking trails. The trail is known for its mesmerizing landscape of red sandstone, deep canyons, green forests, and views of the Colorado River.

This is a 15-mile trail that begins on Sand Flats Road, just outside Moab, and ends at the Grandstaff Canyon Trailhead on the banks of the Colorado River.

Beginning at Sand Flats Road, the trail begins with a wider track for an uphill climb before reaching the rim, which is a mostly downhill ride on a narrow single-track along sheer cliff-edges with steep ledge drops. There are fantastic views across Castle Valley before you begin your descent toward Jackass Canyon and the Colorado River.

You can arrange for a shuttle to take you back to your car or you can cycle on the road and bike path back to the center of town (a 30-minute flat ride) completing part of the Whole Enchilada.

Surface Type: Off-road

Ride Difficulty: Hard – very narrow single-track with technical downhill sections.

9. Emigration Canyon

male cyclist biking on the road going uphill Emigration Canyon - Flickr imagePin
Courtesy: Rudi Riet on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Emigration Canyon can be an easy to moderate ride for casual cyclists. The route is an out and back ride covering around 15 miles for the round trip. The ride begins at the mouth of Emigration Canyon, with parking available at Rotary Glen Park in Salt Lake City, just east of Hogle Zoo. This parking lot can sometimes be busy.

The route follows Emigration Canyon Road to Little Mountain Summit – a route that was taken by pioneer travelers. This is the same route that was taken by Brigham Young and the Mormon Pioneers, leading him to create a permanent settlement in the area, which led to the founding of Salt Lake City.

Once you reach the top, you can check out the sprawling views of this historic landscape. You can also see Little Dell Reservoir on the other side of the summit.

This is an on-road route that travels through the canyon, with a popular roadside diner, Ruth’s, around two miles from the mouth of the canyon. This can be a good place to stop on the way down, with a creekside patio at the back for outdoor dining under the shade of the trees.

Various trails within Emigration Canyon can be connected for longer rides.

Surface Type: Sealed

Ride Difficulty: Medium – a gradual on-road climb of around 1,300 feet.

Bike Rentals And Tours Around Utah

Utah is known for its outdoor recreation so it’s not surprising there are many places where you can rent a bike or take a tour. We’ve included a few outfitters close to some of our favorite trails.

Utah Bike Laws

It can be important to follow the state bike laws while cycling in Utah. We have made a short guide with some of the main laws but you should always research the laws yourself. Our guide should not be taken as legal advice.

  • Helmets are not legally required in Utah for cyclists of any age. However, it’s for your own safety that it’s recommended that you wear one while on a bike.
  • Group riding on roads is allowed with a maximum of two abreast as long as traffic is not impeded. However, there are some roads and paths that are only suitable for single-file riding, often with signs that state this. You must keep as far to the right as safely possible when riding on roads.
  • Lights are required for cycling at night and in periods of low visibility. A white headlight is required and a rear red light or reflector. Side reflectors are also required. All lights and reflectors must be visible from 500 feet away.
  • Alcohol laws, for example, DUI laws, do not apply to cyclists. However, Class 2 e-bikes are subject to the same DUI laws as motor vehicles.
  • Cyclists over the age of 16 can pass through a red light after coming to a complete stop and waiting at least 90 seconds, as long as no other vehicles or pedestrians have the right of way.
  • E-Bikes are considered bicycles for most Utah laws and can be ridden on bike paths, bike lanes, and roads. However, there may be local rules that restrict the use of e-bikes on specific paths or trails.

Final Words

Utah is home to some fantastic trails and bike rides, with spectacular scenery just about everywhere you go.

From scenic road routes to off-road mountain biking adventures, you can experience this elevated landscape no matter what your cycling surface preference.

Check out some of these trails and remember to tell us how you get on. And if you find a better one, let us know!

Bike Push - Mark W
Mark W
I’m a cycling enthusiast, and the founder and chief editor of Bike Push. If I’m not working on this website, then I’m out on the bike clocking up the miles. I want to help others get the most out of cycling.

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